Employers are tokenistic about lifelong learning and are turning the idea of "employability" into little more than a "hackneyed catchphrase", according to an Institute of Employment Studies report.
In the rare cases where employers have policies in place, activities "smack of opportunism" rather than a deliberate strategy and focus on a few staff groups rather than the whole workforce.
Some employers simply re-package career development practices with the "employability" or "lifelong learning" label.
"If employability is to become anything more than a hackneyed catchphrase of the late 1990s, then employers have to adopt a far more concerted approach," said IES research fellow Jim Hillage, co-author of the report, Employability and Employers: The Missing Piece of the Jigsaw. "In many ways employers are the missing piece of the jigsaw. Without them there is no picture."
The report was sponsored by a "research club" of 30 leading employers. The findings come as trade and industry secretary Stephen Byers told the Confederation of British Industry conference this week that new figures showed that the average number of training days per employee has fallen from five in 1996 to three last year. Fewer than four in ten employees receive training. "These statistics should worry us all," said Mr Byers.